Men's basketball focused on faster pace

Coach Avery Johnson's brand of basketball is all about moving fast, but perhaps the fan base would do well if it pumped the brakes a little.

To say Johnson has had success on the recruiting trail would be an understatement. Alabama has risen as high as No. 5 in 247 sports recruiting rankings after verbal commitments from guys like five-star recruit Terrance Ferguson and four-star forward Braxton Key, but nothing is set in stone yet. 

“I don’t know if we’ve proven anything yet," Johnson said. "The official signing date hasn’t arrived yet, and I think ultimately proving that you can recruit is getting kids to not only verbally commit but getting them to sign and get on campus.”

Of course those recruits can't help Alabama as it prepares to open its season, but Johnson is happy with the progress the team has made so far.

“They’ve had to retain a lot of information, but its been very gratifying coming here every day to Coleman Coliseum and working with our team," Johnson said. "[But] we are definitely not a finished product."

Johnson said the team has turned the ball over a lot in practice, but that's hardly surprising considering the speed he wants his team to play at. He uses a 20-second shot-clock in his practices and senior Retin Obasohan said Johnson encourages his players to try to score in the first five seconds.

“With a shorter shot-clock you are kind of borderline playing on instinct,” Obasohan said. “It's helped a lot of people with just playing and not thinking.”

Justin Coleman said the shorter shot-clock was difficult at first, but he said the team has adjusted to the tempo now.

“My mental aspect of the game [has improved]," Coleman said. "I know a lot more about the game."

Playing smart while playing fast will be important if Alabama is going to live up to its goal of scoring 80 points a game. That's a mark the team reached only six times last season.

Johnson said he was not prepared to announce starters yet, but he did say that Jimmie Taylor had an important role to play in the offense this year. Obasohan said Taylor has not let the speed take him out of the game.

“[Taylor's got a] confidence boost to take his game and his team to another level," Obasohan said. "Our bigs are the first down the floor sometimes beating our guards there.”

Alabama basketball fans will get their first chance to see how the team looks in action on Friday at 7 p.m. when the Crimson Tide takes on the Trevecca Trojans in Coleman Coliseum for its lone exhibition game.

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